Threats related to natural hazards demand geoscience expertise, including tectonics and structural geology, seismology, volcanology, oceanography, meteorology, climatology, hydrology, and remote sensing. State geological surveys and state and local emergency management agencies must be able to identify, assess, and communicate the combination of hazard, impact, and associated uncertainty. Geoscientists’ contributions to emergency preparedness are relevant across the world, including in one’s own community. Every city, town, and county faces threats from extreme weather; most have flood hazards as well. More than 50% of the US population resides in coastal counties, exposed to some combination of tropical and extra-tropical storms and tsunamis, and more than 25% are exposed to significant seismic hazards: the difference in frequency and uncertainty between hazard types (e.g., hurricanes vs. earthquakes) is substantial but is not necessarily clear to the public.
Geoscientists can identify and characterize natural hazards, assist in developing planning assumptions, and serve as a trusted source in communicating risk and uncertainty to policy-makers and the general public. As hazards become more immediate, geoscientists can model possible event paths and thus help define warning criteria, monitor ongoing events and to help guide response, and contribute to recovery processes to generate more sustainable communities.